Archives for : February2012

Back Off The Backing In

A small update while it’s on my mind. Normally this would go on Facebook but the explanation required is just a bit too long-form to fit on a fleeting Status update.

People need to stop backing into parking spaces. Post script: Are we not civilized?

Now I know lots of backer-inners (backers-in?). Some of my closest friends count themselves among them. And on the surface it appears to be a non-issue. When you park anywhere against a wall, you will either back out or you will back in. There is no way around that reverse gear, so whichever way you choose, it doesn’t make any difference, correct?

Wrong! People who routinely back into parking spaces rather than out of them (and it’s them to whom I’m writing), do this wherever they go. So parking this way at home or at work usually isn’t much of an issue. They have done it countless times and have a number of small visual marks to guide their way. However, when backing into an unfamiliar parking space these people often mess it up and have to correct a lot. When parking, you are going from a large area to a small one, as opposed to leaving which is of course, the opposite. Going from a large space to a small one is inherently more difficult, so why add to the difficulty by doing it in reverse? You may believe yourself to a be a most excellent driver, and this doesn’t apply to you, and that very well may be true. But it most likely is not. I see people fail to back into a parking spot on the first attempt frequently, far more often than when going in forward.

The second argument against backing in stems from the first one – you are not only spending your own time doing this, you may be holding up others. Going into a parking space, you don’t have the luxury of waiting for the coast to be clear. If someone is behind you, they must wait for you to park, and even if you nail the back-in on the first attempt, it takes longer than parking normally. Plus, backing in obscures your intentions to the other driver. The driver behind you sees you suddenly stop in the middle of the road and throw on your reverse lights. They may not know what you’re going to do. This can be problematic if the other driver is in a hurry and tries to go past. Parking forward-first eliminates this ambiguity.

So why do so many people back in? This is the part of the argument I can’t really answer, because I don’t know. And the Backers of In I have asked about it don’t seem to know either. Sometimes they say that they prefer to leave a place faster than they prefer to arrive at it. It just comes down to a personal preference and there’s no accounting for taste. But we accept that this practice yields no net time savings. It does, however, increase the likelihood of wasting other people’s time, and that is not civilized.

So knock off the fancy stuff.